Mr Wolfgang Roth, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, and Mr Vladimir Tvarozka, State Secretary of the Slovak Ministry of Finance, today signed a EUR 68 million loan for upgrading sections of roads forming part of the main Slovak transport lines.

The project concerns the construction of nearly 8 km of the west-east D1 motorway between Svinia and Presov in Eastern Slovakia. This section is part of the Pan-European Road Network E50 that is being upgraded to motorway standard in stages. The investment also covers the construction and upgrading of 10 km of expressway divided into two schemes on the existing R1 - between Rudno and Zarnovica and Zarnovica bypass. The aforementioned roads represent two main road corridors of the Slovak Republic (D1 in the north and R1 in the south) connecting the Czech/Slovak border in the west with the Slovak/Ukrainian border in the east and the city of Bratislava in the south-west with Presov and Kosice in the east.

This venture is being implemented in the framework of the Motorway and Expressway Programme, which is part of the Slovak Government's Priority Investment Programme in the roads network for this and the next decade. It deals with the construction of new sections of motorway and expressway, as well as the upgrading of small sections of existing roads.

The transport sector is important for Slovakia because the country's geographical position makes it a key transit country for passengers and goods. Roads are the dominant mode of internal transport in Slovakia and account for about 60% of freight traffic. Through improving road standards and increasing road capacity in the sections concerned, the project will improve flows of passenger and freight traffic. Immediate benefits will be reductions in travel time and vehicle operating costs, as well as improvements in traffic safety and the environment.

Commenting on the signature of the loan Mr Roth remarked: The loan will help to remove bottlenecks on the main Slovak transport corridors. The modernised infrastructure will improve the growth potential of the Slovak economy. A well-developed infrastructure network is also vital for foreign direct investment as well as for improving the ability of local businesses to compete in the Single Market.

Since 1990, the EIB has lent a total of EUR 21 billion in Central and Eastern Europe to finance projects fostering European integration, of which EUR 9 billion (47% of the loans) has been invested in transport. Loans provided for investment projects in Slovakia total more than EUR 1.5 billion since 1993, of which one third have been loans for the transport sector.

The prime objective of the EIB in Central and Eastern Europe is to prepare the future Member States for EU membership and to integrate them into the Single Market. The EIB has the following priorities in the future Member States:

  • transport to improve connections between the future Member States and the European Union as well as interlinking these countries, which is a precondition for successful economic integration. Upgrading and further construction of the local infrastructure network and its connection to the Trans-European Network is a major factor in strengthening economic competitiveness, achieving balanced and sustainable development of these countries and re-enforcing their economic and social cohesion;
  • human capital development and promotion of a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy in line with the Lisbon Strategy. In this connection, the Bank finances projects supporting the development of R&D infrastructure, formation and training of human capital, diffusion of innovation and modernisation of telecommunication networks;
  • protection and upgrading of the natural and urban environment to enable the future Member States to comply with EU standards represents another priority lending area for the EIB;
  • foreign direct investment providing capital and know-how, modern technology and management skills for economic modernisation and increased competitiveness.